The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has said the media has a critical role to play in influencing policies and regulations that will contribute to the elimination of Trans-Fat Acids (TFA) in the country.
Speaking during a two-day workshop with themed ‘Journalists, digital media training on trans-fat reporting’ organized by CAPPA and Trans-Fat Free Nigeria in Abuja, the CAPPA executive director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the aim is to build the capacity of journalists to set the agenda and communicate in issues regarding trans-fat to the public.
He urged the media to constantly inform citizens on the dangers associated with the consumption of food products that contain trans-fat to wean them off and present healthier alternatives.
In his keynote address, Dr. Salisu Abubakar of the nutrition and dietetics unit, biochemistry department and Africa Centre of Excellence for Population Health and Policy, Bayero University Kano (BUK), defined trans-fat as “unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources”.
Abubakar explained that naturally occurring trans-fat come from ruminants (cows and sheep) while industrially produced trans-fat are formed in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, converting the liquid into solid, resulting in partially hydrogenated oil.
“Approximately 540,000 deaths can be attributed to the intake of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids annually.
“High trans-fat intake increases the risk of death from any cause by 34 per cent, coronary heart disease deaths by 28 per cent and coronary heart disease by 21 per cent,” he said.
According to him, there is an urgent need for action, setting agenda to influence policies and regulations that will contribute to the elimination of trans-fat in Nigeria.
He emphasised that the media has a key role to play in actualising trans-fat free Nigeria.
Earlier, the associate director, Advocacy Cardiovascular Health, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Hema Kahanchandani, called for immediate gazetting and full enforcement of TFA regulation in Nigeria.
“In addition, the role of media in setting agenda for the actualisation of a Trans-Fat Free Nigeria cannot be overemphasised,” he added.
Kahanchandani recalled that, in 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO), called for the global elimination of industrially-produced TFAs by 2023 through the ‘Replace Action Framework’.
Similarly, the technical advisor, trans fatty acids, Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Dr. Jerome Mafeni, said trans-fat can be eliminated from the world by replacing them with healthier foods that save lives.